Friday, November 30, 2012

Chicken Divan

Chicken Divan
When I was younger my Mom and another mom in the neighborhood held classes in the summer to teach us different domestic skills. My Mom would teach us about cooking and baking and we'd do a small version of a Home-Ec class each week. The other mom taught us about sewing and we worked on different sewing crafts. It was really fun to get together with some of my friends and attend the hands-on classes.

Throughout the summer we learned how to make a main dish, appetizer, salad, drink and dessert. Then at the end of summer we put it all together to make a complete meal. It was the Grand Finale! The end-of-summer meal was awesome. We spent the afternoon cooking and then served dinner to our parents. I remember it was a big event--we got to use my Mom's nice china, we served our drinks in goblet-style glasses, played classical Italian music in the background and my friend and I dressed up as waiters to serve the meal. Oh! Those were cherished times.

At that dinner we made one of my favorite dishes from my childhood, my Mom's broccoli chicken casserole. For some reason we made that dish frequently when having company over and it just evolved into being a favorite.

Chicken Divan is like broccoli chicken casserole, but with a grown-up, modern twist. This dish is rich and creamy, the chicken is super moist and the broccoli is perfectly tender. It's the best comfort food. The first time I made the sauce, I literally wanted to lick out my bowl. The sauce is the best part--so yummy that when I adapted this recipe, I doubled the sauce. I mean, honestly, how can a sauce go wrong when it has cream and butter? Julia Child would be proud.

This recipe is one of my favorites and I love serving it to company. It is not for the faint-of-heart because of how indulgent it is, so that's why I reserve it for special occasions or when I want to surprise my husband (or when broccoli goes on sale and I buy a bunch and need to use it before it spoils). This dish does take a little bit of time, but if you do all the prep work before you get cooking then it comes together relatively quickly. It's tastes like you've spent all day slaving away in the kitchen and people will be wondering how you are so domestically talented. Don't worry, this will be our little secret. :) And please pardon the lack of pictures-- I was majorly multi-tasking when making this dish to show you.

Here is what you need:
- 3 TBS of oil (I prefer olive or coconut), separated
-4 bunches of broccoli (about 1.5-2lbs), cut into bite-sized florets
-4 C low-sodium chicken broth, separated

-4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 lbs), cut in half horizontally (like cutting a roll to make a sandwich)
- 1/2 C. all-purpose flour
-salt and pepper to taste (I used about 1 TBS each), separated into little bowls

-1 medium onion, finely chopped
-2-3 cloves garlic, minced (or you can just use a garlic press)
-2 C heavy cream
-4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
-1/2 C dry sherry (optional)
-6 oz. grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 cups), (Good Parm cheese can be expensive, so I have used Asiago or Romano cheese and they all taste wonderful)
-6 large egg yolks
-3 TBS fresh lemon juice (I've also used Real Lemon concentrate when I'm in a pinch and it works fine)
-6 TBS unsalted butter at room temperature (you can used salted, but I prefer the taste of unsalted)
-1.5 C crushed corn flakes or good-quality bread crumbs

In a large skillet (I have also used a big soup pot when I'm making large quantities), heat 1 TBS of oil over med-high heat until it just begins to smoke. Add broccoli to skillet and cook it until it is spotty brown. This takes me about 2-3 minutes. Once broccoli is spotty brown, add 1/2 C of chicken broth and cover skillet with a lid. Steam the broccoli until just tender, about 3-4 minutes or so. Remove the lid from the skillet and finish cooking broccoli until most all of the liquid has evaporated. Line a bowl with a couple paper towels and transfer broccoli to the bowl. Cover broccoli with foil and set aside. Rinse and wipe out your skillet.

Next, season both sides of chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Place flour into a pan or shallow dish. Coat each chicken breast with flour. Take your skillet and heat the remaining 2 TBS of oil over med-high heat just until it begins to smoke. Cook each chicken breast until a golden-brown crust appears, which takes about 2 minutes per side. (Chicken will NOT be fully cooked. We'll finish cooking it later.) Transfer chicken breasts to a plate and set aside.

Take skillet off the heat and add onions. Cook until they barely get some color, about a minute or so. Add garlic and cook just until fragrant. Add the remaining 3 1/2 C of broth and cream and deglaze your pan (using your spoon to scrape off all of those tasty brown bits from the bottom of the pan). Return chicken breasts to the skillet and simmer over med-high heat until fully cooked, which takes about 10 minutes. Do not overcook the chicken--you want it moist and juicy. Transfer chicken to a clean place and continue simmering sauce until it has reduced to about 2 cups, about 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally to ensure that the bottom doesn't scorch. Add Worcestershire sauce and dry sherry if wanted. Boil for 2-3 minutes and then turn heat down to medium. **Note: you do not have to add the sherry. It tastes great with or without it.

Turn on your broiler to high and adjust an oven rack to the middle. Stir in 2 c. of grated cheese to the skillet. Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a small bowl. Temper the egg yolks by adding 1/2 C of the hot sauce to the small bowl while whisking. Take skillet off the heat and whisk egg yolk mixture into the sauce in the skillet. Then whisk in butter.

Cut your chicken breasts into 1/2-inch slices and arrange in the bottom of a 9x13 casserole dish. Scatter broccoli over top of chicken and pour sauce over the broccoli and chicken. Sprinkle the broccoli with the remaining 1 cup of cheese, sprinkle cheese with corn flakes or bread crumbs and broil until golden brown, about 4 minutes. **When I've needed to keep this dish warm, instead of broiling it I have baked it uncovered at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes. Or I have broiled it and then kept in the oven at 170 degrees.

**Time saving tip: You can make extra or freeze a portion of this if a 9x13 pan is too big. Make the recipe to the point of adding corn flakes and broiling. Place food in a freezer-safe container, let the recipe cool to room temperature (if you freeze while warm it could develop a sour taste) and then freeze. When ready to use, reheat at 300 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until heated through. Then add corn flakes and broil the top for a few minutes until golden brown.

Serve and enjoy!

Makes my mouth water.
Here is the printable recipe.

I hope you love it. It's one of my family's favorite dishes.

No comments:

Post a Comment